Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cause for Celebration - Cuppycakes Sweet Boutique

Life is good and it just got better kids!!  Yes, we have a wonderful advocate for gluten-free living and as luck would have it, she just opened a bakery featuring some of the best gluten-free products I have ever had.  Shari Preister is the vibrant, vivacious, animated owner of Cuppycakes Sweet Boutique and her excitement for her new adventure is contagious!  With much pride and anticipation she opened her Boutique last Friday, and of course you know I was there to check things out!  As soon as you walk in you are greeted warmly and you know you have come to a place a little a good way......a very good way.

Shari is very celiac saavy and she has outdone herself with gluten-free items for us deprived sweet connosseurs......she really has!  The shop itself is very upbeat and lively.  The type of place that bids you to come in and revel in the aromas and take in all the amazing choices that await you.  I was so excited to be there and when I arrived I recognized Shari immediately from the Food Network's Cupcake Wars.  She got her start out at Sempek's in Elkhorn, but it was a small place and she was unable to offer gluten-free items every day.  Now she has the space and boy is she utilizing it.  It is a big step for her to move to her new location and I think that she will do very well.  She also offers some great coffees and teas.  I applaud her enthusiasm and determination.

Let's talk food now.........first the gluten-free cupcakes.  Shari keeps them unfrosted and separate from the other cupcakes.  You can pick the flavor of frosting you prefer and you can even have them put a filling in the cupcake if you wish!  I had a vanilla cupcake with raspberry frosting and a fresh raspberry on top.  I am embarrassed to admit this, but when I took the cupcake home I devoured it as if it was my last meal...........and I licked the cupcake lining........yes, folks it was that good!  They are a little larger than your average cupcake (can that be a bad thing?) and each bite is really better than the last.  In case you can't tell, I am hooked already:)  Next is her gluten-free cheesecake.........please can we talk??  This stuff is what our gluten-free dreams are made of.  She usually has New York Style cheesecake and then you can pick the topping you would like on it or if you are a purist, you can have a plain slice.  Very creamy, very luscious, and everything you would expect from an authentic cheesecake.  She tells me she will be making a gluten-free margarita cheesecake with a gluten-free pretzel crust.......count me in!!

Next up is her marvelous gluten-free cookies.  These chocolate cookies are heavenly!  They are a little bit crunchy on the outside (but not too much) and on the inside they taste like a rich brownie!  Oh yeah, they are just superb!  They are small (perfect size) so I am guessing they might be guilt-free too......ha!  They are by far and away the best gluten-free cookie I have ever had.........really delicious.  I am betting my gluten loving friends would never be able to tell these cookies are gluten-free.....never.

OK, so I should put something healthy in here too, right?  Shari makes a gluten-free granola bar that makes me smile from ear to ear.  Some gluten-free granola bars are less than stunning imitations of the gluten laden ones I used to enjoy...........too many seeds, too hard, too know what I am saying.  But these are just about perfect and they are sweetend with molasses not sugar.  I am pretty critical when it comes to gluten-free granola bars and these have surpassed all my expectations.  I take them to work with me and have them for a snack.......just perfectly satisfying for me.......and they really are guilt free:)

Now if I sound like I am gushing over this new shop, I guess I am.  But, when you find someone who is an advocate for celiac and gluten intolerant people and then you realize that she really "gets" the whole picture and she serves amazing food..........well, yes, I am going to gush.  One of her employees also has celiac and that is also a plus for the shop.....she knows stuff:)  And she does not charge extra for gluten-free I need to repeat that??  She does not believe it is right to charge more for gluten-free and she is well aware of what we have to pay for things that everyone else takes for granted.  The Boutique is at 14242 Fort Street and it is easy to find.......just head for 144th and Fort and you can't miss it.  This woman is a gem........what would you expect from a woman that made gluten-free cupcakes for Katy Perry:)  Make some time to visit the shop and let's give this amazing woman the support she deserves........and bring your gluten loving friends with you.......that stuff looks amazing too!!!  Til next time, cheers!  Linda

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hello out there!  It has been a long time since I have blogged and there are several reasons for that.  First of all, I think I just got tired of talking about celiac and all the tedious details that come with it.  Secondly I was eating way too many carbs and we all know what that can lead to.  Yes, extra pounds, so I decided to take a much needed break from constantly thinking about gluten-free and then came to a realization.......I cannot take a break from the gluten-free life and IS my life and it will be forever or until a miracle takes place (not holding my breath).

I went through a period of time where I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired and having so many aspects of my health tied to gluten, that I think I kind of checked out of the conversation.  No, I stayed on my gluten-free diet (in spite of being glutenized occasionally by some uninformed person at a restaurant or because of my assumption that an item on a menu was still gluten-free).  But I became so weary of meeting new people and having social situations where I either had to explain why I was not participating in a junk food fest or having to explain my health issues to a date that I became pretty cavalier about the whole thing.  And alas, it did not go away and I am still here and I seem to have a new outlook on this "wheat, gluten situation".  It is what it is and I am what I am.  People either accept or they don't............but either way it is my problem, not theirs.  So once again I am on the band wagon to be an advocate for gluten-free living and to sort out all the issues that come along with it. 

I am thrilled to say that the Farmer's Markets are back in full force and I could not be happier!  I have pined away for this weekend tradition all winter and am looking forward to strolling aimlessly through the booths and being surprised by the bounty that is the Markets.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Divine Cupcake Obsession

Rarely do I ever go back and review an establishment that I have already discussed on this blog, but this place deserved another visit.....yes, I am talking about Jones Bros. Cupcakes. I have had the occasion now to try their gluten-free red velvet, black & white, lemon, strawberry cream, and chocolate. I am having a difficult time deciding which one I like best, but here is my take on these paper-lined cups of wonderment. First the lemon........the delicate flavor of heavenly, light, fresh lemon is just perfection. It is not too tart, not too is just right! The flecks of lemon in the frosting are a brillant touch of citrus that lightly explodes in your mouth and tops these fluffy cakes to perfection. (How do they do it?) The black & white is a classy little cupcake that again, is impossible to believe that it does not contain odles of gluten! It is tender, it is tasty and the white frosting and sprinkles that crown these little gems is just a little top hat of joy! It makes me feel like dancing on my top hat! (If I had one) Now I spoke of the red velvet before so I won't be redundant.......suffice to say these are just amazing and rank high on my list!! Now on to what I think is my new favorite.....the strawberry cream. Oh my, what a wonderful surprise these are! The subtle flavor of strawberry is not at all overbearing and the combination of the cake and frosting are likely to send you into a fit of the vapors or at the very least make you swoon! My Mother used to make cupcakes like this and send them with me in my lunch for school. They had pastel frosting and were so full of richness but at the same time almost floated on air........that is what these strawberry cream gluten-free cupcakes do........they float into your mouth with no effort whatsover.....and they are beautiful to look at....if you can keep from eating them long enough to gaze at them. The chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting taste like something my Mother made as well on a special occasion.....a big three layer chocolate cake. Rich and gooey and decadent as you can get. There is something so festive about a good cupcake....kind a like a little party in a cup. You don't have to make a huge calorie committment and I dare you to try one of these Jones Bros. Cupcakes and not smile while you are eating it. And I also dare you to walk into this establishment and not be happy just to be there.

Those of you that are familiar with the same old tired gluten-free baked goods that people are trying to convince us are good.......BUT we find that same gritty, coarse texture and that strange aftertaste that accompanies so many attempts at gluten-free baking......will also become obsessed and a true believer in these gluten-free darlings once you try them. We need more in our lives that make us smile and I guarantee you these will make you smile. My only problem is that I had to add another mile to my daily work-out to keep up with the cupcakes I am inhaling. I have brought several friends and family members to this place and they always say the same thing...."I am so glad we came here." You will be too!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jones Bros. Cupcake Heaven

Well, it finally happened..............Jones Bros. is making gluten-free cupcakes and the world is a much nicer place. BC (Before Celiac), my most favorite treat in the world was red velvet cupcakes. I think giving those up bothered me more than regular bread. But alas, my prayers were answered and Wednesday I finally got down to Jones Bros. and low and behold red velvet was the gluten-free cupcake of the day!!! I was so excited when I got them that I ate one the minute I got back in my car. Now understand I could have stayed at the lovely establishment and savored every bite, but I had to be somewhere and I could not be patient a moment longer. The cupcake is sublime.....delicious...satisfying.....and just downright awesome. I have no idea how they make them so rich and creamy with no hint of grainy flour or other annoying traits of some gluten-free baked goods. I would challenge anyone to take a taste test and I am guessing they could not tell the difference between a gluten-laden cupcake or a gluten-free cupcake if they were blindfolded...........what a wonderful treat and what a delightful gift for us gluten-less people. I was out on the West Coast last weekend and found a gluten-free bakery.....lets just say it was a disappointment and leave it at that. My hat is off to Jones Bros. and I can't wait to try another flavor.......probably this weekend. And just a caveat.......the gluten-free cupcakes freeze very well. And the boxes they give you the cupcakes in are spilling or rolling around....they just sit tight in their own little holder waiting to be savored and adored. They also can make their salads gluten-free...........could a lettuce wrap be next???? I don't know, but their phone number is now on my contact list on speed dial......don't delay....go there now and spoil yourself!! What a gift to Omaha!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WOW Baking Company and more decandence

One of my recent gluten-free discoveries are the wonderful cookies from WOW Baking Co. They are a company out of Kent, WA that creates their delicious cookies in small batches. Whatever they do, they have captured the essence of a gluten-laden cookie in a gluten-free form. Their Snickerdoodle cookie is an extremely decadent treat that makes me crave more and more of them. They are a nice big flat, crumbly cookies here. This is a cookie you can wrap your hand around and get into! The Oregon Oatmeal is pure genius. It has dried cranberries and dried apricots encased in a marvelous and satisfying oatmeal cookie that in a healthy kind of way does remind you of Oregon......moist and chewy....yum! The peanut butter cookie is above reproach and that is saying a lot. They have other flavors; lemon, chocolate chip, and molasses ginger. And I have heard their brownies are astonishingly good. You can find these treats in the frozen food section of the Health Mart at Hy-Vee Stores. They sell them individually and they also have mini cookies in little plastic tubs to purchase. I am quite certain that if I bought the tubs of cookies I would eat them all in one sitting.....consequently I only buy one cookie at a time for a special treat!

Another recent astonishment has been the local finding of Graeter's Ice Cream at my Bakers Store on 132nd and Maple. Now I have a friend back east who used to describe in glorious detail the creamy, custardy flavors of this ice cream. She told me people ordered it from all over the world and had it shipped to them........I was somewhat skeptical, because I consider myself somewhat of an ice cream snob. I search out gourmet ice cream like some people look for a good book........hard to find but so worth the time and effort. The Graeter family has been making this ice cream in Cincinnati since 1870......I think they have it down pat. They make their ice cream in small batches as well.......are we seeing a trend here? They make it by what they call a French Pot Process. And in many cases (depending on the flavor) they drizzle their own homemade dark chocolate slowly into the ice cream.......the result is hard to describe.....but not hard to eat. Most flavors are gluten-free. The most inspiring flavor I have found is the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip. I have been known to serve this elegant ice cream for dessert for dinner guests and they always say the same thing...."this is the best ice cream I have ever eaten". I saw Graeters participate in an ice cream showdown with another family owned company on the Food Network, and Graeters won, hands down! I would recommend that the next time you need to have an ice cream fix that you run to Bakers and try Graeters....this stuff isn't cheap...about $4.99 a pint. But imagine how much it would cost if you had to have it shipped to you:)

Another nod to Ron Popp of Wheatfields. I stopped by the other day to see what was new and they had gluten-free kolaches! I had a blueberry one and it was just heaven! Who would ever think in a million years that I would eat a kolache again....I have said it before and I will say it again.....Ron Popp you are my hero.

Wave Bistro - I must give Kudos to this new discovery........Wave Bistro. I probably have driven by the place a hundred times and never even gave it a glance. A friend suggested we have dinner there and I went with some misgivings since they didn't have a gluten-free menu. But not to worry, when we arrived I informed our waiter of my celiac issues and he was completely knowledgeable and was able to point out many dishes on the menu that would be kidding, he knew what he was talking about! I tried the Lemon Creamy Almon Shrimp not knowing what to expect. I couldn't believe the wonderment of the dish. It was indeed creamy and crispy and flavorful and delicate and heavenly all at the same time. I have never had a dish quite like this but I will definitely be having it again. It surpassed my expectations and was just fabulous. I also tried the Miso Chilean Sea Bass....oh my again words are hard to choose to describe this dish. I try not to order Chilean Sea Bass often because it is after all an endangered fish, but damn my conscience I could not help myself. And boy was I glad that I had no conscience that night. This fish was delicate, refined, melted in your mouth, and was probably the best Chilean Sea Bass I have ever experienced. They had other entrees that I did not try that were safe for me; Medallion of Pork Tenderloin.....the mind boggles, Salmon Roulade and actual desserts I could eat. I had a chocolate mousse torte that made me swoon. It was a layer of milk chocolate, a layer of white chocolate, and a layer of darke chocolate that was all married together in the most decadent of ways. It was silky and heavenly and very much the special ending to a very special meal. I highly recommend this Bistro to everyone......celiac or not.

Will Spring ever arrive.........hope "springs" eternal......get it?????

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wheatfields Did It Again & Other Notables

Well, Wheatfields hit a homerun again! With my curiosity peaked over the excellent gluten-free offerings I have tried so far, I of course had to try more. I chose the chocolate layer cake and let me tell you it was divine! Each moist and creamy layer oozed a rich chocolate texture and taste that had me swooning from the get-go! The richness of the fudgy chocolate cake and the gooey wonderment that was the buttercream frosting was a completely love rendering experience that I strongly recommend. Four layers of cake...........that is non-existent for the gluten-free bunch! And that amazing filling between each layer and chocolate frosting that beautifully finishes the cake............can you say cake love? I certainly can and will again very soon. Ron Popp, you are my hero and I am guessing that you will soon be a hero to many other cake deprived celiacs in Omaha.......hip, hip, hooray!

Cantina Laredo

Now this perky cantina in hip Midtown Crossing is one of my new favorites for Mexican fare. They have a very interesting and eclectic menu that features items that are marked with an icon if they are indeed gluten-free. I am going to start backwards with the dessert because I am a flan/custard/creme brulee freak. The flan is a velvety version of the standard with a little twist........suffice to say if you like orange liqueur, you will love this.......or even if you don't, you will love this! Each bite is inspiring.......inspiring you to take another spoonful!

Next let's talk about the guacamole. Can we talk?? They come to your table and make it in front of you. Now there has always been something charming to me about people making food in front of you.....maybe it is the fact that you know exactly what is in it......or maybe it just seems more personable and I do love live entertainment! But, whatever it is, it works here. The stuff makes you want to dance on your sombreo and sing romantic Spanish love songs....(to the guacamole of course)and all the while trying to figure out how to stop eating it so you have room for the infamous flan at the end of your evening.

Several of their gluten-free menu items have been tried and were both hits with me. The Camaron Pablano Asado is so richly rewarding and full of surprises. It teases the tastebuds with just the right combination of spices and layers of flavor that definitely shines from beginning to end. I asked the waiter what his favorite dish was on the menu and this was his recommendation. He was is a winner and not the typical fare. The Brisket Tacos are amazing and alas, I order them way too often. They are presented on little delicate looking corn tortillas and loaded with the most tender, slow-cooked brisket and paired with sweet red onions that are still a little crisp. The combination is just short of awe inspiring. As far as gluten-free sides go their mango jicama slaw is a fresh and crisp sensation that is not to be missed. Ditto on the Barracho Beans. These guys seem to have their act together and know that great, fresh food and some flashy presentation thrown in for good measure are crowd pleasers.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wheatfields Forever!

Send up a flair, alert the media, Katie bar the door and throw a ticker tape parade! Wheatfields is now featuring gluten-free bakery items!! Yes, I know......fantastic news isn't it? In the old days (BC-before celiac) I was a frequent visitor to Wheatfields and a huge fan of theirs. Imagine my disappointment when I could no longer go there without sadly passing by the amazing array of pies, cakes, pastries, rolls, cookies, breads that assaulted all my senses, as I entered the restaurant. It was virtual torture, so alas I did not go to my favorite restaurant very often. But low and behold, that has changed! So far (and I say so far because I will be sampling every gluten-free item they have, I have tried the pecan roll, the oatmeal raisin cookie, and my own personal favorite: the infamous strawberry wedding cake. What can I tell you and where do I begin? Now those of you that are familiar with trying to find gluten-free baked goods are probably used to much disappointment and frustration.........not so at Wheatfields!!

First the pecan roll. Of course (and this is wonderful) it is big like their other rolls! That in itself is a small miracle to me. Usually if you are lucky enough to find a cinnamon or pecan roll it is about half the size of it's gluten-laden counterpart and somewhat ho-hum! (Not to mention that it is usually frozen.....blech!) Now I heated this pecan-drenched delight this morning and I had my own little party at breakfast. It was gooey, it was decadent, it was everything that their original pecan rolls are, but better, because I could eat it!!! I highly recommend this little trip to heaven! I really need to go buy a cinnamon roll there tomorrow.

Next....the oatmeal raisin cookie. Ahhh, it was chewy, not dry, it was filled with flavor and homemade goodness, and it was a big giant cookie! Again, usually gluten-free cookies require a microscope to actually see them and they usually are less than stellar. This cookie is a winner on every count...........go get some!

And last but certainly not least.........the strawberry wedding cake. Now there has always been a soft spot in my heart for this sinful cake. Everything about it is what makes me love cake. It is moist, it is creamy, it assaults your taste buds with layers of surprise and delight and bursts with the tart freshness of strawberries all at the same time. This cake had officially gone off my radar as I could no longer partake in it's lovliness. But alas, when I ate that gluten-free version of the cake yesterday I was carried back to when I first had Mr. Popp's masterpiece of cakes! It tasted the same as I remembered. Life is good..........this is nothing short of a miracle to me.

Now understanding that it is no small feat to come up with gluten-free recipes that actually taste like they are not gluten-free............ my hat goes off to Ron Popp and his wonderful bakers. This is news-worthy folks and has made my weekend totally sublime. If you have to eat gluten-free for whatever don't walk to Wheatfields on Pacific and I guarantee you will go back and try everything that they have to offer. I understand there might be a gluten-free menu in the still my heart! I am signing off for now......Wheatfields is still open.......yay!!